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The Definitive Practice Test Guide for the GMAT
- About the GMAT
- Sections of the GMAT
- What to Expect on Test Day
- Best Ways to Study for the GMAT
- GMAT Tips and Tricks
- GMAT FAQ:
About the GMAT
The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is required for admission into most business schools. It is taken by college graduates who are near their graduation date. Getting a good score on the GMAT is crucial if you intend on applying to a competitive MBA program. It was developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council to help screen potential applicants to business schools.
There are four sections of the GMAT, and the total time allowed to take it is three hours and seven minutes.
The two multiple-choice sections (Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning) are administered in a computer-adaptive format. This means that each question’s difficulty is determined by the test taker’s previous responses.
The Verbal Reasoning section has 36 multiple-choice questions, and you are allowed 65 minutes to complete them.
The Quantitative Reasoning section has 31 questions, and the time allowed for this section is 62 minutes.
The Analytical Writing Section is one essay question timed for 30 minutes.
The Integrated Reasoning section is 12 questions with multiple parts and also has a time allowance of 30 minutes.
Your score on the GMAT will help business schools understand your capabilities in various areas. Each section is scored separately using its own scale. The score most people refer to when talking about GMAT results is the cumulative score for the Verbal and Quantitative sections, which ranges from 200 to 800. Generally, a score of above 700 is considered good, while many business schools will still consider admitting strong applicants with a score in the 600s.
Sections of the GMAT
In this section of the GMAT, you will do a very specific kind of writing. Your job will be to comment on a given argument in text. The test is not asking you to form or write about your opinion of the subject matter, but only to analyze the argument made by the author of the text. You will be given one topic and have 30 minutes to complete your analysis.
First, you will need to summarize the point of view of the author, as written in the passage. Then, determine if the points the author makes are valid and well-supported. There may be flaws in the author’s reasoning or points may not be pertinent to the argument. It is up to you to decide and support your comments with solid evidence and clear reasoning.
For a list of sample prompts used in this test, see this GMAT preparation resource .
This section of the GMAT contains 12 questions and is timed for 30 minutes. It measures your ability to study data reports, like graphs and charts, and answer questions about the results. You will look at the various sources of data and respond to four types of questions:
Multi-Source Reasoning: combining several data sources to find answers
Graphics Interpretation: analyzing text, charts, and graphs for information
Two-Part Analysis: solving problems that have multiple parts
Table Analysis: organizing information from numerical reports
Our practice questions will all be in multiple choice format and, therefore, cannot provide practice with the different question types. They can, however, give you exposure to the types of reasoning you will need to do in order to be successful on this section of the GMAT.
The GMAT Quantitative section requires you to use mathematical and reasoning skills to answer questions and solve problems. You will not be allowed to use a calculator for this section.
According to the official GMAT website, the math skill level assessed is no higher than that of high school math classes. It will be necessary, however, for you to use these basic skills along with your own reasoning ability to correctly answer the questions. The questions will also ask you to refer to the data given and draw conclusions from it.
Questions in the Quantitative section of the GMAT fall into two types:
- Data sufficiency—You don’t have to actually find a solution to a problem, but you must determine if the information given is enough to find a solution.
- Problem solving—You must actually solve a given problem using math concepts and strategies.
Please note: Our practice questions include both of these types, but we provide four answer choices, in contrast to the five choices you will be given on the actual test.
In this section of the GMAT, your ability to read and understand written English is assessed. You need to use your reasoning ability to form conclusions and to evaluate the content. Also included are questions relating to the correct use of Standard Written English.
There are three question types on this section of the GMAT:
Reading Comprehension—Questions concern a passage of approximately 350 words.
Critical Reasoning—Questions require you to consider information given in an argumentative passage and find the best answer.
Sentence Correction—You must determine if a sentence is correct, as written or if some correction needs to be made for an underlined portion.
What to Expect on Test Day
Taking the GMAT can be a stressful experience for many business school candidates. However, plenty of preparation and a good understanding of what to expect on exam day can often ease anxieties. Test takers should plan to prepare at least 30 minutes to allow plenty of time for the check-in process. They should also ensure that they have had a good night’s rest and a nutritious meal before arriving. This will ensure that you are able to focus throughout the duration of the test and not be distracted by hunger or drowsiness.
What to Bring
There are very few items that you must bring with you on the day of the exam. You will need a valid, government-issued form of identification, and you should also bring your appointment confirmation letter or the email you received from the testing center to aid with the check-in process. You may also bring prescription eyeglasses. Most testing centers will have lockers in which you can store personal items, electronic devices, and reference materials.
What Not to Bring
You do not need to bring a calculator or any pencils or scratch paper. All of the materials you will need while taking the exam will be provided by the testing center, including a calculator for the sections in which one is allowed. Testing centers also generally prohibit food and drinks, unless pre-authorized through an accommodation request.
Best Ways to Study for the GMAT
Take Practice Tests for the GMAT
GMAT practice tests are an invaluable tool in preparing to take the exam. These practice tests give test takers an idea of the types of questions they will encounter, how difficult the questions will be, and provide an opportunity to become comfortable with the format. In addition to these benefits, practice exams can often give you an idea of which areas may require more preparation and studying to achieve your desired score.
Use Alternative Study Methods
In addition to taking practice tests, alternative study methods, such as flashcards for the GMAT and study guides for the GMAT can be incredibly valuable in preparing. Reviewing the content and questions on these alternative formats can help many test takers retain information better. And if you print them out, flashcards are easy to carry around so that you can take a quick study break whenever you have a few free moments.
Simulate the Testing Experience
Simulating the entire GMAT test is also a very important part of preparing to take this exam. The GMAT is incredibly long, with strict time restrictions for each section. Taking practice exams for each section using the predefined time restrictions gives you an idea of how well your brain will perform on a very long exam and also shows you approximately how long you can spend on each question while still allowing time to complete every question. This process helps you to identify the pace at which you must move through the questions on exam day.
GMAT Tips and Tricks
Start studying early.
Most recommendations suggest starting to prepare for the GMAT at least eight weeks prior to your test date, although some even say that six months is optimal. Either way, to adequately prepare for this test, you need to allow plenty of time for studying. You can best identify how much time you will need to prepare, although it is always better to start early and put in extra time if you are really shooting for a great score.
Keep a steady pace.
Unlike some other standardized exams, there is a penalty for not completing each section, and every question that is left unanswered can decrease your score significantly. Keep an eye on the clock and make sure that you are keeping a steady pace. If you must, make a strategic guess on the question and move on. This is the best strategy for getting an optimal score.
Use the process of elimination.
For questions for which you don’t know the correct answer, it often helps if you work through it backward and eliminate the answers that you know are incorrect. This process narrows down the field of potential right answers and gives you better odds of selecting the correct answer.
1. How much does it cost to take the GMAT?
The true cost of taking the GMAT may vary depending upon the test site, although it is generally around $250.
2. When will I get my score?
An unofficial score report will be provided immediately after you take your exam for every section except for the Analytical Writing section. The official score report, including your results for the Analytical Writing section, will be mailed to you approximately three weeks after you take the exam.
3. Can I send my GMAT score to more than one school?
You may identify up to five schools that you would like to receive your score before you take the exam. You are not charged a fee for sending scores to those five. If you would like more schools to receive your scores, you can order additional score reports online for $28.
4. Can I retake the GMAT?
If you are not satisfied with your GMAT score, you may retake the exam, although you must wait at least 16 days between exam dates. You may not take it more than five times in a calendar year or more than a total of eight times.